Weaver, Leitzinger Win Toronto Grand Prix Oo Mosport
BOWMANVILLE, ON, Canada - James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger dominated most of the way and won the American Le Mans Series Toronto Grand Prix of Mosport on Sunday at Mosport International Raceway.
The two co-drove the Dyson Racing MG Lola EX257-AER to a 16.319-second win over the Champion Racing Audi R8 of JJ Lehto and Marco Werner. Lehto and Werner were trying to win for the fifth consecutive time in ALMS competition this season, while Weaver and Leitzinger won for the first time since July of 2003 at Sonoma, Calif.
The Audi team gambled by not changing tires on its final pit stop, putting Lehto ahead of Leitzinger by nearly 30 seconds with 45 minutes remaining in the timed event of two hours and 45 minutes. But 10 minutes later, with Leitzinger slicing seconds off the lead every lap, Lehto slid off the track in the fifth turn of the 10-turn, 2.459-mile road course due to a flat tire, handing the lead back to Leitzinger for the final time.
"I was very concerned when they did the fuel-only stop," said Leitzinger. "I was hearing the split times and I was catching up with JJ, but it was far from sure. Then I saw him in the barrier and breathed a sigh of relief. This win was awfully satisfying."
"It was absolutely perfect," said Weaver. "I couldn't make a racing car do better than that. We have a lot of miles at Mosport and it paid off handsomely."
"The tire just blew up," said Lehto. "Fortunately it was in a place where I could get back to the pits. We had a good race going and it was a lot of fun today, but I wish we hadn't lost that tire at the end."
The other Dyson Racing Lola finished third overall and in the LMP1 class, driven by Chris Dyson and Andy Wallace.
GAVIN, BERETTA END FELLOWS-O'CONNELL STREAK
Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta won the GTS class in a close finish, nipping the other Corvette Racing factory team entry of Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell by only 0.240 second.
The #4 Gavin-Beretta Chevrolet Corvette C5-R led the entire race but was never able to totally pull away from its team car. The loss spoiled Fellows' race at his home track and ended the duo's bid to win for the fourth straight year at Mosport.
"We had a good start and the car was very quick," said Beretta. "It's a good weekend for the Corvette Racing team. Ron is quick everywhere, but when you race at someone's home track and beat them, that's great."
"Both cars had a good clean race today, which is just what management wanted," said Gavin. "Having no yellows helped us really get into a flow. Hat's off to our crew, they won the race for us today. Johnny was pushing hard and the gap would go up and down. Finally we built the lead up. At the start of the race, the 3 car worked better. We were better at the end. It's great to be a part of another 1-2 finish. I'm really pleased we won. We've had some bad luck this year with some ill-timed yellows. It's great to be first."
"You come to Mosport with Ron Fellows and of course you want to do well," said O'Connell. "But you know, we're still in good shape for the championship. We were the fastest car after the last stop and were running very strong. We made just a slight adjustment on the front tire pressures and the car really came in."
"Well the car ran fine, but it's a little disappointing," said Fellows. "The 4 car does better late in the stint than our car does. Johnny and I have both worn out our tires by the end."
The ACEMO Saleen S7R of Terry Borcheller and Johnny Mowlem finished third in the GTS class.
BERNHARD, BERGMEISTER WIN GT CLASS
Timo Bernhard scored his third GT class win of the season, and co-driver Jorg Bergmeister his second, as they drove the Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR to a 17.914-second win.
David Murry and Craig Stanton finished second in the Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Porsche, while third went to the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.
"It was a pretty good fight out there," said Bergmeister. "We were fighting on the outside of turn 8 and took a good line. After the battling the wheel took a vibration. Our guys did a good job following the pit stop. I picked up a bad oversteer when the handling changed a bit. I tried to drive around the problem. I asked to come in but they told me to stay out because we needed to finish the whole stint."
"We knew we wouldn't be able to finish the race on only one stop, so strategy would be in play today," said Bernhard. "There was quite a lot of traffic out there and it was tough to get around."
Marc Lieb, driver of the other Alex Job entry, was examined and released from a local hospital after a hard crash into a tire barrier early in the race.
LIDDELL PERFECT IN LMP2 CLASS
Robin Liddell has teamed with Clint Field four times this season in the Intersport Racing Lola B2K/40-Judd, and each time the team has won the LMP2 class. The Mosport victory was the third straight for the duo.
Ian James, John Macaluso and James Gue finished second in the Miracle Motorsports Lola-Nissan.
"It's great, we have the best package at the moment," said Liddell. "It would be nice to have more cars, management seems to be doing the right thing by allowing for that. There are cars out there which should improve the feeling of the competition. Hopefully later on, the fans will be able to enjoy some more competition with more cars in class. We as a team need to be ready though to step up to the challenge. We're lucky, we've been fortunate, but the team has given us a chance to run flawless. We just need to stay out there and gain points to build for the championship. Ian James is out there gaining points so we have to just keep working out at."
ROAD AMERICA NEXT FOR ALMS
The American Le Mans Series will have a weekend off before the Road America 500 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., August 20-22. Following the Road America event there will be only two races remaining in the 2003 season.